Embracing interoperability

I receive alerts from Google Apps. whenever they enhance their offering—for GMail, Google Docs, Calendar etc.  The frequency of the updates is impressive, although each one offers what could often be deemed a trivial piece of functionality.  On the Docs front, they have 15 years plus of Microsoft investment to catch up on, but their web-based applications methodology allows them to release new stuff as and when they see fit, rather than wrapping it up in the latest version of Office and hoping people upgrade.

(A recent update on Calendar was their newly introduced support for the Chinese calendar.  Not something that I’ll be adopting but impressive, I’m sure.  Gregorian’s working just fine for me, thanks.)

I was notified of the latest offering at 2.32am today: easier viewing of .ppt and .tiff attachments from Gmail.  On the .ppt front, this reminds me of Microsoft’s acceptance of wk1 and wk3 Lotus 1-2-3 extensions, both as formats which could be read and ones which could be saved as.  To this day, 24 years after its introduction, I still love the fact that hitting forward-slash in Excel prompts you with the menu bar, a hang-over from Lotus 1-2-3 which I remember so fondly, no doubt with rose-tinted glasses.

It’s the only way to go.  Be open, and people will like you and embrace your offering.  Ignore the world around you and your competitors, and people will ignore you, or at best get pissed off trying to find middleware with which to interoperate (is that a word?) with what they need to interoperate with.

Anyway, users of Standard, Premier, Education, Team and Partner Editions of Google Apps can now view .ppt and .tiff files online, directly in their browsers. A Flash plugin is no longer required. The viewer can also zoom in and out, select text to copy and paste, and ‘print’ the presentation to a PDF document.


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